Tourism ad is paying off 40 years later

Thursday, April 15, 2004

By Kelvin Simmons

Missouri Division of Tourism

The staff at the Missouri Division of Tourism works hard to promote our state to travelers all over the world through innovative marketing campaigns and advertising. The division, which is part of the Department of Economic Development, often receives requests for information from individuals interested in visiting the Show-Me State.

Last fall, a request arrived in the mail that was rather unique. The fact that the request came from an individual in India was not so unusual, as was the fact that the request for information was written on a business reply postcard taken from an advertisement in a 1960 National Geographic magazine.

Certainly, a lot has changed since 1960, but some things have remained the same. At that time, the Division of Tourism was called the Missouri Resources and Development Commission. The 170-page Missouri Vacation Planner that is used so widely now as a travel resource, was called the Missouri Spectacular, a 32-page guide.

Missouri's features and attractions that were displayed in the 1960 advertisement are still high points that draw so many visitors each year. The 1960 ad promoted Missouri as the "Heartland of Hospitality -- where the old South and new West meet." The ad focused on Missouri's southern hospitality and outstanding restaurants. The logo featured in the ad highlighted fly-fishing, baseball and city life -- three important components of the Division of Tourism's present-day marketing campaigns.

Another similarity between the 1960 ad and today's ads is a focus on Missouri's great outdoors. The old ad mentioned our outstanding state parks system (there were only 33 parks in 1960 as compared to more than 80 today) and Missouri's dogwoods, fall foliage and scenic beauty. All of those attributes are featured prominently today in the Division of Tourism's ads.

The Division of Tourism continues to work hard in promoting our state, and their efforts are paying off. Travelers made an impressive 35.6 million trips to Missouri in fiscal year 2002, which was an all-time record.

Our staff works with Missouri advertising agencies to create innovative, targeted marketing campaigns, such as last year's "Drive Into Fall" campaign, which was a promotion giving away a Jeep Wrangler and five Missouri vacation packages. Entrants were invited to register to win prizes when they requested information on the tourism Web site or visited one of the Missouri Welcome Centers. The campaign is estimated to have resulted in 20,000 vacations with almost $17 million in tourist expenditures.

Promoting the Missouri tourism industry is essential to the health of our state's economy. Tourism is one of our largest industries, with more than 200,000 Missourians working in tourism-related jobs. This amounts to one out of every 14 jobs, which signifies the importance of tourism to Missouri's economy.

With its central location and wide variety of activities and sites, the Show-Me State has always been considered a family-friendly destination. We will continue working hard to promote our state to visitors both within and outside our borders.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: